It happens to the best of us. From time to time, we feel stuck and our strength to move forward depends on the level of clarity we have about the causes and potential effects of our current circumstances. That clarity doesn’t always come, and so we aren’t always sure what to do next. Dwelling on potential causes of the setbacks we experience generates regret about our own actions and/or resentment toward others. Letting our imagination get the best of us relative to all the bad things that are going to possibly happen creates worry and fear. And trying to let the past go or trying not to worry, although well-intentioned, do not carry the day unless we find a way to gain clarity and look at our current circumstances through an objective lens.
I have found that there are ten questions you can ask yourself when you feel stuck, the answers to which provide clarity and a line of sight to the next steps that serve you and your mission. They are as follows:
1. What outcome am I committed to? The answer to this question shifts your focus away from the immediate obstacles and reminds you on the size of the prize once you overcome the challenges you are facing.
2. What is the most important step I can take right now? By focusing on the immediate next step, you reduce the overwhelm associated with trying to figure out how the rest of your journey is going to go and all the challenges you are going to face.
3. What am I making the current situation mean about me? Although failures and setbacks are hardly ever a fun experience, what exacerbates the pain and causes us to take our focus away from taking that next step is that we interpret our circumstances in ways that hurts our self-image and confidence. Whether we make the situation mean we are not good enough or that someone doesn’t care about us, and so on, it is helpful to acknowledge our interpretation and examine whether it is true or something we have conjured up in our minds.
4. How can the challenges I’m facing help me in my development? This is a question that is always easier to answer in hindsight. When we look back at our struggles in the past, we can see usually see how they helped us grow. We should know, therefore, that at some point in the future, we will also see benefits in having to grapple with our current circumstances. So, why not acknowledge it now and celebrate the silver lining while we are going through the storm?
5. Have I honored my commitments? If you know that your current circumstances have been partly caused by you not meeting your commitments and not honoring your word, then acknowledge it and take action to clean it up so you can forgive yourself and restore your integrity with yourself and others.
6. Who am I blaming for what? The baggage we carry in the form of resentment and unforgiveness weighs us down at a time when we need all the energy we can muster to recover from a setback. Getting clear on the answer to this question is the first step in evaluating whether we are willing to put some of that baggage down and move on.
7. What payout am I getting by staying stuck? Sometimes, even though we have every intention of getting unstuck, subconsciously we find more pleasure in staying stuck than taking action. This invisible forcefield hold us back. You’ll have to look carefully to find the answer to this question, as it is normally hiding in plain sight. It could be that you see more reward in playing the victim as opposed to having to do the hard work. It could be that you’d rather not have the tough conversations you need to have and you’d secretly prefer to just deal with the negative consequences of avoiding those conversations.
8. Who can give me honest feedback and wise counsel? Our tendency is to gravitate toward people who would commiserate with us and validate our feelings. Identifying the people who are willing to be brutally honest with you, and of course having the conversation to seek feedback, you will gain insight that may be hidden from your view.
9. What unreasonable action can I take to change the game? Being reasonable and only taking action that is considered low risk and acceptable to others never results in a game-changer. The key is to acknowledge your reasons not to act and then act anyway. Remember that your reasons for not wanting to take bold action are based on your past experiences. If you want a discontinuous shift from the past, then you need to be prepared to go beyond your reasons.
10. How can I contribute to someone else while I’m dealing with my own issues? Focusing on making a contribution to someone else takes your focus off of you and on a cause bigger than yourself. This is a healthy exercise for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you are always in the center of all of your frustrations and when you shift your focus away from you, much of your pain vanishes.
Since it’s hard to keep our emotional reactions from distorting our logical understanding, and because in those moments when things are not going well, facts and fiction get intertwined, it is always a great idea to reach out to a coach or a confidant who is willing to let you vent and then guide you back to a path that leads to a proactive response. To that end, I would highly recommend that you go through the above questions with the help of a coach who can facilitate the process of you gaining clarity and objectivity in your answers. I hope you have found this post helpful, and until next time, may you boldly declare, courageously pursue, and abundantly achieve the extraordinary!
You can now listen to the new 5-part audio series, “Transforming Your Workplace Experience!" This audio series serves as both a great standalone introduction to culture transformation, as well as a companion to our previously available free culture transformation guide. In the series, I walk you through some applications and examples of the concepts presented in the guide, so that you can more effectively put them into practice and get motivated by the progress you will start making. I know that after learning and applying the concepts and distinctions that I present in the guide and audio series, you will be more qualified than ever to create extraordinary cultures that consistently deliver breakthrough results!
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About the Author: Amir Ghannad is an international keynote speaker, author of The Transformative Leader, leadership consultant, culture transformation champion, and founder of The Ghannad Group. He has made it his life's work to guide leaders and equip them with the tools, skills, and the mindset necessary to create extraordinary workplace cultures that deliver breakthrough results. Download his free e-book, titled 5 Practical Steps to Make Your Culture Transformation Stick by clicking here.
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As always, have a great week! May you Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary!
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